When it comes down to it, a WordPress website installation has two parts. There’s the Fileset and the Database. On rare occasions, we’ll have clients request an “archive” of their website. This could happen for a variety of reasons — such as we’re building them a new site, they’re no longer hosting with us or they simply want to store a backup themselves. In these cases, we’ll grab what we call a “full dump” of their WordPress site. When a website is ready to be archived in this manner, we’ll export and download both the Fileset and the Database for the client.
Download the WordPress Fileset
The Fileset can be accessed via sFTP using a client such as Filezilla. Once logged into your FTP client with your proper credentials, you’ll be able to see the directory of your WordPress installation.
The real meat and potatoes of your custom WordPress website files are within the wp-content directory.
Simply copy that directory (via drag-and-drop) from the FTP location onto your own computer. It may take some time to download the files from the FTP location (server) to your own computer, depending on the quantity and size of the files, as well as your Internet speed.
For example, if your website has numerous high-resolution images or many complex plugins, then that will cause your download to have a larger filesize and more overall files to move.
Here are the steps:
- Create a new folder on your device (e.g., “Site Archive – YYYYMMDD“).
- Connect to your server via an FTP client (these credentials can be found from your hosting provider).
- Navigate within your install’s directory and find the wp-content folder.
- Drag-and-drop the wp-content folder from the FTP client into the “Site Archive – YYYYMMDD” folder on your device.
- Wait for all files to transfer (and check for any “failed transfers”).
Note: It should be mentioned that the wp-content folder does not contain ALL files of your full WordPress installation. Essentially the wp-content folder contains all of the files that makes your WordPress installation unique/custom (compared to a barebones WordPress install).
It contains your media and resources — such as images, themes, and plugins. It does not contain the “core” files of a WordPress install.
If trying to create a new WordPress installation on your own, you can get the latest core WordPress package from the official source.
It’s a relatively small download, since it doesn’t yet contain all of your custom assets. Once that’s downloaded, you can then replace its wp-content directory with your own.
Export the WordPress Database
To export (download) your Database, you’ll need to log in to a database management tool, such as phpMyAdmin. Most hosting providers offer access to your WordPress Database by such a method. Keep in mind it’s likely that your phpMyAdmin credentials will differ from your FTP credentials.
The Database is where all of the valuable content and adjustments of your WordPress website are stored.
This includes all of your custom WordPress settings, Theme settings, Plugin settings, Page content and layout, Post content, WordPress Users, etc.
Follow these steps:
- Log into your database administration tool (e.g., phpMyAdmin) — which is usually accessed from your control panel at your hosting provider.
- In the left sidebar pane, click the appropriate Database name (there may likely only be one to choose from).
- This will display all of your Database tables for your WordPress installation.
- Click the Export tab, then choose Custom (in the Export method area).
- Scroll down and click the “Add DROP TABLE / VIEW / PROCEDURE / FUNCTION / EVENT / TRIGGER statement” checkbox to enable it.
- Ensure the “Add CREATE DATABASE / USE statement” is unchecked.
- Scroll down and click the Go button.
- Wait for your .sql file to download.
- Move this file into the “Site Archive – YYYYMMDD” that you made earlier (which should also have your wp-content folder in it too).
After downloading the wp-content Fileset folder and exporting the Database, you should now have both side-by-side within an overall folder on your device.
It would be recommended to zip this overall folder and store it in a safe and secure place.